Monsters are the lifeblood of stories. Monstrous people, beasts, or actions are generally added to give a story that added burst of terror. I love a good monster and the chills that they send down my spine. Although my favourite monster of all time is the Tyrannosaurus Rex from Jurassic Park, I decided that for this challenge, I could only use fictional monsters. Since the T-rex is a real dinosaur, it doesn’t count.
We all know that monsters can be sympathetic, otherworldly, or both. I’ve tried to avoid the sympathetic monster as well, so Frankenstein won’t make it on this list. Books I haven’t read also won’t be featured here which disqualifies Frankenstein again. Sorry! I’ll get to you, I promise.
First of though, a runner up. I’m not sure how many of you had access to a copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark when you were a child. For some reason, my grade school library had a copy and I was scared stiff. The stories on their own are horrifying, but the drawings just add to it.
So as a special runner up, I present to you the lady from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
I was so scared of this lady that I would hide the book away before bed. I think I thought she would crawl out of the pages toward me.
This image isn’t for the faint of heart.
Meet her in all her glory!
Terrifying, right? Okay. Onto the list!
5. I Am Legend
So the monsters from I Am Legend are kind of a cross between vampires and zombies, but what makes them creepy is how normal they are. Normally, once someone becomes undead they change their life dramatically. But what if they didn’t? What if they were just out to get you, but also were still the same neighbour?
The idea of fully conscious zombies who still want to murder you is absolutely terrifying to me. Part of what makes zombies so great is they’re both like us, but have lost enough of their humanity to make them monsters. But… what if that humanity is still there?
I don’t want to say more in case I give things away, but everyone should read I Am Legend. Forget the movie, the book is where you want to be.
4. Mr. Hyde
From the beginning, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a surprising novel. Human nature is the monster here because Mr. Hyde isn’t necessarily monstrous on his own. Using a serum that Dr. Jekyll had created, his evil instincts take over.
But that’s not an evil that came out of nowhere. The potion itself isn’t evil. Instead what makes Mr. Hyde so terrifying is that he’s just a dude. One who has a monstrous lack of empathy, but still a dude.
Modern-day serial killers are often likened to Jekyll and Hyde. They can seem normal on the surface, but lurking underneath is a monster waiting to come out.
If you’re curious about the novel, the Kindle edition is free on Amazon right now.
An oldie, but a goodie, Dracula is a classic monster. While vampires aren’t really scary any more, OG vampires were terrifying. Imagine yourself stuck in a castle with a monster who looks entirely human, but only survives on blood. Now imagine him in your bedroom while you sleep.
He gets scarier, right? What makes Dracula terrifying is that he can fit into society. He knows how to play by the rules and use those rules to his advantage.
Dracula is more than just a murderer. He’s also more than just a monster. He’s cunning and able to outsmart the humans who hunt him on many occasions.
2. The Headless Horseman
I don’t think any list would be complete without mentioning the headless horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. He isn’t as widely represented in media. Maybe due to the fact that he requires a horse. Either way, he’s frightening.
Walks in the woods at night are terrifying enough and I don’t know why people would even bother. But now picture there’s a demonic man on a horse chasing after you. As he gets closer, you realize that he doesn’t have a head. He wants yours.
I would nope out of that scenario so fast. Seriously, screw living in the country. I would have a nervous breakdown within two days.
1. The Werewolf
I used to think that werewolves were so boring. Oh no, he transforms into a wolf? Yawn. They were as watered down as the parody of werewolves from What We Do In the Shadows.
But then I read the The Werewolf of Paris and holy h*ck you guys. Holy h*********ck.
Beyond the people around the werewolf also being monstrous in their own right, the Werewolf is horrendous. Right from the start, you know that you’re in for something terrible. I thought that classic novels would be more restrained.
Maybe it was due to the Victorian novel, but wow. This one didn’t pull any punches. I won’t say much more, but if you want to be truly chilled… Read The Werewolf of Paris.
Did I miss one that you enjoyed? Or maybe you don’t agree with one of my selections? Let me know, I’m always happy for recommendations.